Ash Barty's act of pure class after missing out on World No.1

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Rather than wallow in defeat after missing a golden opportunity to regain the World No.1 ranking, Ash Barty turned all the attention on the woman who just beat her.

Barty's chance to move back to World No.1 was just one victory away, but at the end of an up-and-down week she didn't have another comeback left.

Barty lost to wildcard Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 6-4 in the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Open on Saturday, adding to the tournament's week of upsets and injuries.

For Barty, it was another instance of a slow start leaving her trying to dig out.

Ash Barty missed a golden opportunity to go back to No.1. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

This time, a resurgent Kuznetsova gave her no openings, knocking off a top-five player for the second time this week to reach her first final of the season.

But despite the costly miss, Barty was all class in defeat.

"Sveta was unreal today," Barty said in her post-match press conference, before taking to social media to heap more praise on her opponent.

“Too good today @SvetlanaK27,” she wrote on Twitter. “Hopefully the first of a few battles.”

Fans appreciated the briliiant show of sportsmanship from the Aussie star.

Question marks ahead of US Open

The women's bracket has a lot questions with the US Open just around the corner.

The top ranking isn't one of them.

Barty's seven-week run as No.1 ended when Naomi Osaka edged ahead of her in the latest rankings.

A victory against Russian veteran Kuznetsova would have moved Barty back ahead for the final major of the year and hand her the top seed.

Instead, she dropped the opening set for the third-straight match and, this time, there was no digging out.

"A week that we battled through," Barty said. "I think at times I played some good stuff. At times, I played some pretty awful stuff."

Ash Barty congratulated Svetlana Kuznetsova. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Which will it be for Barty at the Open? And will Osaka be in good enough shape to defend her title?

Osaka dropped out of her Cincinnati semi-final on Friday with discomfort in her left knee that caused her worry.

She still plans to play at Flushing Meadows but it's unclear whether the knee will be a problem.

And then there's Serena Williams, who retired in the finals at Toronto last Sunday because of back spasms.

She withdrew from Cincinnati before her first match but stuck around to cheer sister Venus until her loss in the quarter-finals.

with AAP